Most San Diego parents are aware that many children’s food products
such as Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal, and Minute Maid Lemonade contain
artificial coloring, but many may not be aware that these bright artificial
colorings could be harmful to their children.
In a clear reversal of position, the FDA has formed a panel to examine
whether artificial food colorings should come with a warning label.
The hearings signal that the growing body of research suggesting a link
between artificial colorings and behavioral changes in children has finally
convinced the FDA to reassess the need for warning labels.
As reported by the
New York Times, the panel was prompted by an FDA report that concluded that while typical
children might be unaffected by the dyes, those with behavioral disorders
might have their conditions “exacerbated by exposure to a number
of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color
It is important to note that other studies, particularly a 2007 study published in
Lancet, found that artificial food coloring might lead to behavioral changes in
typical children as well.
Scientists and consumer groups are encouraged that the FDA is willing to
reexamine its position and conduct further research. However, as noted
by the New York Times:
Research on pediatric behaviors can be difficult and expensive to conduct
since it often involves regular and subjective assessments of children
by parents and teachers who should be kept in the dark about the specifics
of the test. And since the patents on the dyes expired long ago, manufacturers
have little incentive to finance such research themselves.
In the meantime, parents must decide what is best for their children. If
parents are concerned, they are reminded that food products with natural
food colorings have been deemed 100% safe.